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UN2K: Papua New Guinea PM Mekere Morauta

UNITED NATIONS MILLENNIUM SUMMIT

STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER

OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA

THE HON. SIR MEKERE MORAUTA, Kt., MP

8 SEPTEMBER 2000, NEW YORK


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M. President,

Excellencies,

Delegates,

It is an honor for me to address this Millennium Summit; not only on behalf of Papua New Guinea, but as a citizen of the South Pacific.

Although we occupy thousands of islands remote from global centres such as this, new forces unleashed by change, interdependence and globalisation remind us that no man is an island. Our future is intertwined with the rest of the world.

This is the greatest challenge, and the greatest opportunity, that we have faced. The risks are enormous. Left unmanaged, they threaten our existence.

We in Papua New Guinea have adapted to the first wave of modern change, colonialism and the encroachment of the developed world's ideas and practices. But that was a ripple in a pond compared with what confronts us now.

One of our fathers of Independence wrote how he and the nation had had to deal with 1000 years of progress in a single lifetime. He was being conservative. In less than 200 years Papua New Guineans have moved through the metal age and the industrial age and are now grappling with the information age.

But the cyclonic forces unleashed by the information revolution and globalisation have created a tidal wave that may drown us. Small states like Papua New Guinea are already living on the edge.

To us, poverty, illiteracy and illness; conflict and crime; environmental devastation and political instability, are far more than concepts. They are part of our daily lives.

Can the world comprehend the reality of these simple and obvious facts and develop new structures and processes to cushion their effects?

Pacific Island states dependent on natural resources such as fisheries and timber require mechanisms that promote sustainable exploitation.

The United Nations and the World Trade Organisation should take the lead.

Papua New Guinea remains committed to free trade and investment by 2020. So we were disappointed with the failure to start a new WTO Round in Seattle. Can we as leaders now make a real commitment to the WTO?

Talk of new preferential trading arrangements is also disappointing. Once some nations are treated as more equal than others, the weakest will be neglected There is already an unacceptable wealth gap between the developed and developing worlds. Indeed, allowance must be made for the fact that commitment by vulnerable economies to free trade and investment further exposes them.

Papua New Guinea is also concerned by the prospect of new links between trade rights and social and environmental conditions. It is reasonable to expect a commitment to international standards, but it is unreasonable to contemplate sanctions against those who are not able to meet arbitrarily imposed additional criteria.

In the longer term, sustained development requires the Pacific Islands to build strong and competitive economies. Papua New Guinea has begun to do so, realising our need for more investment in human resources and economic infrastructure as well as internationally competitive enterprises.

Pacific Island nations need capital and technology from the developed world.

But the funding guidelines and policies of multi-lateral development and financial institutions need to be more flexible and relevant to our requirements and capacity.

Our needs are not confined to trade and investment.

For many, our very existence as nations is under threat unless the rising sea level is dealt with at once. Not all governments have accepted the Kyoto Protocol's emission targets, and not all will meet the agreed targets. The UN has to orchestrate further efforts with greater urgency and seriousness.

Papua New Guinea must not only adapt to rapid economic, social and environmental transformations. It faces political change to the east and the west that is just as dramatic.

It has become obvious that mechanisms for dealing with threats to stability are inadequate. They need to be strengthened, not only to resolve conflicts but, more importantly, to prevent them.

Our own experience on Bougainville, and our efforts to help the Solomon Islands and Fiji arrive at their own solutions to their crises, show that with the cooperation of our neighbors and multi-national bodies, progress can be made.

Human development through economic, social and political advancement is the building block to prevent conflict.

Representative bodies and individual states have too often confronted conflict after the event, commonly with destructive and expensive political and economic weapons. Moreover, it is clear that effective intervention requires an intimate understanding of domestic society. The adoption of this approach in the South Pacific will be a starting point.

The United Nations itself needs critical self-appraisal. The lack of attention it has paid to the south-west Pacific is already costly. In particular, the circle of the Security Council needs to be expanded to include a voice for Asia and the Pacific.

All multi-lateral agencies, not just the agencies of the United Nations, must rebuild their structures and processes to reflect the rapidly changing circumstances of the world, of regions and of individual nations.

The price of not doing so is increased human suffering. We do not accept that.

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